john dutton

John Dutton: Everything to Know About the 'Yellowstone' Patriarch


In the world of Yellowstone, there's no one as revered as Kevin Costner's John Dutton. He's the ultimate patriarch; in this western take on a Shakespearean tale, Dutton's children (and one fearless ranch hand) are completely devoted to him, willing to go to any length to protect the family ranch and protect what they believe is their land -- a vast swath of Montana called the Yellowstone.

Dutton himself is a product of his raising. He comes from a long line of cattle ranchers who've worked the same land since the late 1800s, as we learned in the prequel series 1883. He's seen plenty of tragedy -- even burying his loved ones on the land -- and everything he does is driven by his desire to pass the ranch on to his grandson, Tate.

So who is John Dutton? And what is it about him that makes a huge portion of Montana residents both fear and respect him? What can we expect for the fearless leader in season five of Yellowstone? Read on for the ultimate breakdown of one of Yellowstone's most compelling characters.

Who is John Dutton?

Kevin Costner as John Dutton


John Dutton III is first and foremost a Montana cattle rancher. Every decision he makes goes back to keeping the Yellowstone in the family. He even teaches his children to "learn to be meaner than evil" to go up against the Duttons' many opponents. Heck, he even ran for governor of the state of Montana just to have more power and leverage to stomp out his enemies. It's a position that comes with a great deal more power than his previous position of livestock commissioner, which is now his son Kayce's role.


Still, John Dutton isn't all about barking gravel-voiced orders at his kids. He has a softer side too. He loves his grandson Tate and is frequently seen bonding with him, taking him fishing and going on horse rides across the countryside.

Kevin Costner says John Dutton's new role as governor is sure to be a challenge for the outdoorsman.

"I know how hard it's going to be on him," Costner told USA Today. "His heart is at the ranch, not trying to find middle ground with people. That's going to be problematic. He has a lane that he operates in that is not as expansive as some would want it to be. And he won't change."

Who Plays Young John Dutton?

Yellowstone occasionally features flashbacks to the '90s, showing John Dutton and his wife Evelyn with their kids, Jamie, Beth and Kayce. His son Lee Dutton died in a shootout in season one. Young John Dutton is portrayed by Josh Lucas, who you'll recognize from flicks like Sweet Home Alabama, The Lincoln Lawyer and Ford v Ferrari. 


"I think Taylor Sheridan is the only director that I've ever stalked," Lucas told the Paramount Network. "I was obviously a big fan of his writing before Yellowstone and then when I read the script, I was just totally blown away by it. He didn't cast me but I kind of let it go. At the same time, I sent him little notes and messages about why he made a mistake."

Who are John Dutton's Kids?

Luke Grimes as Kayce Dutton


Much of the drama on Yellowstone stems from John Dutton's kids and their complex relationship with their father and the ranch they were raised on.

Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) is the adopted son of John Dutton, though he doesn't find out he's adopted until adulthood. His biological father is Garrett Randall, who served a lengthy prison sentence for killing Jamie's mother. The complicated relationship between John, Jamie, Garrett and the rest of the Dutton crew comes to a head in season four.

Wes Bentley as Jamie Dutton and Kevin Costner as John Dutton on Yellowstone


Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) is John Dutton's only daughter and his fiercest supporter, despite the fact that she hates the ranch and would happily pave paradise and put up an airport or a strip mall if it wasn't for the fact that it means so much to her dad.

Kelly Reilly as Beth Dutton


Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) served as a Navy SEAL and now works as Montana's livestock commissioner. He has a wife, Monica (Kelsey Asbille), and a son, Tate (Breckin Merrill).

Lee Dutton (Dave Annabele) was the eldest son of John Dutton. He was fatally shot over a dispute over cattle. It was actually Robert Long, Monica's brother and Kayce's brother-in-law, who shot Lee.

Who Are John Dutton's Parents?

Kevin Costner as John Dutton


John Dutton is the son of John Dutton II (Dabney Coleman), who passed the Yellowstone ranch on to his son. He's seen in the season 2 episode "Sins of the Father," in which he shares a tender moment with his son.

Not much is known about John Dutton's mother, but it's likely that we'll learn more about her over the course of the series. The Yellowstone-universe goes deep, with prequels such as 1883 depicting the original Dutton patriarch and matriarch, James Dutton (Tim McGraw) and Margaret Dutton (Faith Hill), John Dutton's great-great-grandfather and great-great-grandmother.


The upcoming 1923 will center on more Dutton ancestors, Jacob Dutton (Harrison Ford) and Cara Dutton (Helen Mirren).

Is John Dutton Married?

Kevin Costner as John Dutton in Yellowstone


John Dutton is a widower. He was married to Evelyn Dutton (Gretchen Mol), who passed away in a horse riding accident in 1997. Though its clear that his heart will always belong to Evelyn, he has had a couple love interests, including former Montana governor Lynelle Perry and Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo), an environmental activist.

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